Proposition 10 just throws gasoline on the housing crisis fire

By Jon Coupal | This November, Californians will see several taxpayer threats on the ballot, not the least of which is Proposition 10, titled “Local Rent Control Initiative.” This measure would open the floodgates to big government bureaucracies, burdensome regulations and a loss of property rights. The word must be getting out, because a poll released last week by the Public Policy Institute of California shows Proposition 10 lagging.

A weekly column by Jon CoupalProposition 10 would repeal the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, a law that was enacted after a compromise was worked out between dozens of different interest groups. Costa-Hawkins stopped local governments in California from enacting a hodge-podge of different rent control laws, each with its own big bureaucracy. The law prohibited rent control on newly constructed buildings, single-family homes and condominium units. It also guaranteed the owners of existing rent-controlled buildings the right to raise the rent on a unit to market value for new tenants when the former tenants moved out.

Proposition 10 would allow cities to enact any type of new rent-control law. New bureaucracies could impose new rules, fees and price controls on old buildings, new buildings, small buildings, garage apartments, granny flats and even single-family homes and condos. Proposition 10 would make California’s well-documented housing crisis even worse by discouraging investment in rental housing and incentivizing conversions or even demolition of existing rental property.

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office warns this measure could hurt California taxpayers, predicting a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in state tax revenue. That would mean less money for schools, roads and emergency services.

What’s more, the initiative would unleash a massive new regulatory bureaucracy in control of all housing. Unelected rent boards would have the power to raise fees on housing without any caps, and no vote of the people or the local elected body is required.

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